Understanding Dyslexia: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
Dyslexia is a common learning disorder that affects between 5-10% of school-aged children, marked by difficulties in accurately and fluently recognizing words during reading and dictation. This condition can lead to challenges in comprehension and the acquisition of educational materials, which often results in a limited vocabulary and knowledge base. An effective correction of this condition lies in early detection and comprehensive treatment.
What is Dyslexia?
In recognizing dyslexia, it is essential to familiarize ourselves with the range of characteristic signs that mark this condition. However, this can be challenging as there are many varied manifestations, which can also differ by age.
Common Symptoms of Dyslexia
- Problems with concentration, attention, and memory
- Disorientation in space, such as mixing up left and right, or up and down
- Difficulties with tasks, ranging from basic requests to learning the alphabet or multiplication tables
- Reversing the sequence of letters, syllables, and numbers while writing or reading
- Clumsiness in handling writing instruments
- Avoidance of activities like reading out loud or writing, due to discomfort from frequent errors
Dyslexia is commonly identified during school preparation when a child struggles to learn to read. It is indicated by slow reading rates, chaotic and irregular eye movements, and excessive duration of eye fixations (pauses on a line).
Specific Symptoms of Dyslexia
- Ineffective and prolonged reading by letters and syllables
- Delays in associating sounds with letters, leading to errors and slow memorization
- Numerous reading mistakes that differ each time the same word is read
- Reduced reading speed compared to peers
- Reading comprehension difficulties
- Limited vocabulary
- Writing defects
Oral speech disorders, low mental efficiency, organizational difficulties, deficits in visual attention, unstable interests, and lack of self-criticism may also be observed as optional symptoms.
Most causes of dyslexia are neurobiological in nature. Understanding this is vital as, frequently, out of ignorance, parents and teachers attribute reading difficulties to laziness or a lack of attention, exacerbating the situation.
Other contributing factors include:
- Imbalances between the cerebral hemispheres
- Severe brain-affecting infections like meningitis
- Complications during birth and pregnancy, such as maternal infections, substance use, and fetal asphyxia
Social factors also play an influential role. The symptoms of dyslexia may arise from excessive academic burdens and poorly communicative environments. However, it’s noteworthy to mention that dyslexia is not exclusive to children from disadvantaged families; for purely biological reasons, it can manifest in children living in excellent conditions and with adequate parental attention.
Dyslexia Across Different Ages
Dyslexia manifests in early childhood and can lead to impaired mental development if uncorrected. In adults, it occurs due to damage to the cerebral cortex.
Signs in Children and Adolescents
Preschoolers struggle to learn and remember the letters of the alphabet, mispronounce words, have trouble recognizing sounds, and fail to notice rhymes in poems. Symptoms become more evident in elementary school, as they read slower, mix letters and words, write numbers in reverse, and claim words on a page seem “blurry.”
Untreated dyslexia may lead to social withdrawal in middle and high schoolers. They can face orthography errors, slow reading and speech, and difficulty remembering words, inserting placeholders like “umm” in their sentences.
Adults with dyslexia often can’t summarize a story clearly and struggle with idioms and jokes. Reading problems might be less obvious, pointing to a lack of childhood diagnosis.
- Difficulty concentrating on single tasks
- Avoidance of planning-intensive meetings
- Struggles with lengthy forms
- Harsh self-criticism
- Preference for visual learning or tactile experiences
- Stress from errors and demands
Adaptation and Anxiety Issues: Individuals with dyslexia often exhibit inconsistent behavior. Success one day may not easily be replicated the next, leading to increased daily anxiety.
Social and Emotional Challenges: Dyslexic individuals tend to be less mature socially and emotionally, potentially resulting in lower self-esteem and peer acceptance. Social immaturity can lead to awkward encounters, and as language becomes a key form of expression, establishing emotional connections and social relationships can be a challenge.
Emotions commonly intensified in dyslexic individuals include anger towards oneself or others, depression, and frustration over adaptation difficulties.
When To Seek Medical Advice
Noticing several of the mentioned symptoms is justification enough to consult a doctor and begin treating the condition. It’s important for parents not to scold the child but to adopt a gentle, balanced approach.
Diagnosis and Assessment
Dyslexia assessment involves a variety of tests examining the intricacies of memory, analysis ability, concentration, attention, logic, intelligence, etc. Each individual’s symptoms may vary greatly and hence require a tailored approach.
The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) includes 12 sections to determine general, verbal, and non-verbal intelligence scores. A diagnosis of dyslexia may ensue when the IQ is below a critical value for a particular age and there’s a substantial difference between the WISC general intelligence score and the actual IQ.
Specialists such as special education teachers and neuropsychologists can diagnose dyslexia. Speech therapists, typically consulted for speech or reading issues, can also refer a child for additional testing.
While often lifelong, correct interventions can significantly improve daily functioning. A special speech therapy program may be selected for more substantial correction.
Addressing dyslexia includes sessions with a speech therapist, neuropsychological correction, psychotherapy, and, in some cases, pharmacotherapy, though the latter remains a matter of debate. Each type of dyslexia has its own peculiarities in correction methods, from addressing phonemic issues to tackling grammatical, semantic, optical, mnestic, and tactile dyslexia through various specialized exercises.
Early diagnosis allows for easier assistance from specialists. With proper guidance, a child with dyslexia can significantly overcome their difficulties and lead a better life. This result is typically achieved through a two-stage process including multisensory learning techniques and emotional support from tutors and parents. Developmental games and attentive (yet not overbearing) adult supervision can be excellent preventive measures.
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the experts in this article are for educational and informational purposes only and should not act as medical advice. Sputnik advises consulting with a specialist prior to implementing any advice published here.